ATA/100 RAID advice

mjovic

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Dec 31, 2007
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I would like to set up an ATA/100 RAID for a 3D animation system...cost is not as much a factor as cost vs. performance. since i'm spending a ton on a wildcat card and 24" monitor i only have about $1,000 left for a RAID and that pretty much rules out SCSI. what's is the best ata/100 drive and controller out there? is ibm deskstar75gxp the way to go? i was thinking going amd with the mobo, is the abit kt7 raid highpoint controller good enough? i'm new to setting up a raid so any advice would help out greatly.

also, can someone please explain to me the different configurations of raid (newbie question, sorry!) and are they easy to setup? any advice would be greatly appreciated. thanks!
 
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Ok, here's a great sub 1000 raid solution.
Buy two IBM deskstar (they are the fastest IDE drives available for now) and a Promise Fastrack 100 or Promise Fastrack 66 (for about 100$).
I use it at home and it's really excellent.

Here are the different RAID setup.
With the promise card, you can only do RAID level 0 and 1, or 0+1.

RAID 0: Performance only, both HD are considered as one big hd and data is striped amonsgt them. It gives and awesome transfer rate!

RAID 1: Safety only, your second disk is the mirror of the first one. Pretty useless, unless you are realy afraid of HD failure.

RAID 0 + 1: You need 4 drives for this configuration. Data is striped amonsgt the first 2 drives and the two others are mirrors of the 2 first.

Raid 0 would be the best solution for you.
 
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YOu will find another post about RAID where I explain a little more, but here is a quick breakdown:

There are 3 factors to RAID's, Cost, performance, and safty (or mean time till failure). Cost here refers to Cost per usable MB.

RAID 0)Striping. Best performance. Takes 2 or more disks and stripes data across them. Thereby allowing you mulitple read/write heads working simultaneously. Also the cheapest setup. All real disk space is usable disk space. However, most prone to failure. You now add all the mean time till failures of however many disks you have as the true failure time. You lose one disk, you pretty much lose your data.

RAID 1) Mirroring. For every usable disk, you have a mirror disk. Most expensive as you only get 50% usable storage space of total raw storage. However, if one disk fails, you still have full access to data. Slower than single disk on writes (has to copy the same data to both disks), faster than single disk on reads (is able to read from both disks). Fastest RAID that offers disk failure protection.

RAID 5) Striping with parity. This is simular to RAID 0, except there is an added disk that stores parity (well parity is spread across the disks, but for simplicity go with this). More cost then RAID 0, less then 1. If you have 6 disks, you get the usable storage space of 5. However, it also allows one drive to fail without loss of any data. Slowest RAID of the three due to parity calculation (XOR operation) on all data.
 
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Actually, RAID 5 is not the slowest RAID level of all.
It depends a lot how many disks will be in the array.
For example, if you have 6 disks in the array, it is going to be much faster that if you have 6 disks in RAID 1. Data is going to be striped amongst 5 drives, which give much better performance than only 3 (in RAID 1).

Also, I must say that RAID level 1 is not the only level that offers disk failure protection. In RAID 5 mode, if a HD fails, then it can be rebuilt quickly. It is even possible to have it in HOT SWAP mode (which means that you just plug your new HD back in the array and it is rebuilt immediately without any down time.
 
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I assume you are building your computer as a tool to make money. If that is true, safety (prevention of data loss) may be of egual or greater importance then performance.

You have two basic approaches to protect your data. You can go with an separate data backup strategy (tape, CD, optical, zip drive etc.) or you can build an intrinsically high reliability storage subsystem. Most larger companies implement a combination of both.

Since your budget is limited, you might consider using a FastTrak100 with 4 HDs in a 0+1 array. This will provide better performance than a single drive (or RAID 0 mirror) plus good protection against data loss. In this configuration the failure of any one drive will not cause data loss.

You will still also want to consider making periodic data backups using your CD-RW (you do have one?) and store them in another location. That way if a real catastrophy strikes (fire, flood, theft, virus attack etc) you will be able to rebuild with most of your data still intact.
 
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"you might consider using a FastTrak100 with 4 HDs in a 0+1 array. This will provide better performance than a single drive (or RAID 0 mirror) plus good protection against data loss. "

There are a few things I must correct.
First of all, the Promise Fastrack 100 does not support more than 2 drives per array. You can have a maximum of 2 arrays per card.

Secondly, what do you mean by RAID 0 mirror?
Raid 0+1?

Finally, let's say you could use all 4 drives in a single array, you get much better performance when using all 4 drives in RAID 0 (stripe mode) than RAID 0+1 for a simple reason: The data is split amonsgt all 4 drives instead of only 2 of them. Though, if data safety is important, then RAID 0+1 is definitely the best solutions.
 
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The IBM Deskstar is an excellent drive to go with. It's a little noisy, but is second to none in speed. (Aside from SCSI) Best bet for a controller is to go with a Promise Fastrack 66 or 100. (You can even modify one of the ATA 66 or 100 cards they make into a raid card, at one fifth the cost.) Also, you might look at some new info popping up about how a NVidia Geforce and Geforce 2 card can be modified into a Quadro card worth 3 times the money. I've done the Promise raid modification, but have yet to change a Geforce card. Saving the money on the controler and video card may seem foolish, but that would allow you to go with 2 - 4 drive raid arrays on 2 seperate ata raid controlers. One whole terabyte of storage for animation sequences is pretty tasty.
 

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